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Christian Music Goes Mainstream

Blue_billboard_1 Today on Billboard Magazine's "Daily Music News" I noticed that out of ten articles, four of them had the influence of Christians in them.  And out of the six CD reviews on the two had Chirstians on them. For the last ten years or so Christians have been fully engaged in the mainstream music scene. It used to be that most Christian artists were either locked into church music or locked out of the mainstream. Bluegrass and country seemed to be the exception to this.

The CD review was Leigh Nash's new CD on One Son records. She was for many years the lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer.  Sixpence has performed at the church I pastor.  It's great review. Read the Leigh Nash CD review here.

Pod_04l The first article was about the rockcore band P.O.D. (Payable On Death) and their departure off of Atlantic Records ( a huge mainline label) to who knows where. POD started in San Diego and were n a Christian label for some time, but they never went far on those circles. Without ever compromising their beliefs, and writing songs full of spiritual content, they rocketed to top of pop music having sold over 7 million records since their mainstream debut in 1999.   

The next article talked about a re-release and a reworking of a DVD from U2s Zoo-TV tour.  While U2 isn't generally thought of as a "Christian" band, Bono and other members have professed Christianity and spoken openly and somewhat frequently about it.  Bono in particular has used his celebrity to champion causes that are bigger than himself, the band and even nations to tackle. He has taken on worldwide poverty and AIDs.  Michael W. Smith is one of those that has partnered with Bono to bring about immediate relief and lasting change to some of the world's most difficult problems.  Bono recently addressed the National Prayer Breakfast. You can read his speech here:  Bono at the National Prayer Breakfast. Here's a great Bono quote about Jesus,

    "...but I'm holding out for grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity."  Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas

To see George W. Bush singing Sunday, Bloody Sunday, by U2, click here.

The next article was about a CD collaborative effect between Alan Jackson and Allison Krauss.  Alan Jackson has been around for a long time, but I only became familiar with him from his lyrics to 'Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" his amazing tribute to the September 11th attacks.  Recently Alan Jackson put together a Gospel album of songs that he did as a Christmas present to his mother. The songs were scaled down musically and after he released them publicly the CD went to the top of the Christian charts. You can listen to clips of Alan Jackson's Gospel songs here. Allison's band Union Station has some very committed Christians in it.

The fourth article was about the release of a new folk music CD. Artists in the compilation included Ralph Stanley and the Stanley family. Ralph Stanley has been performing for decades, but was introduced to new audiences through "O Brother Where Art Thou?"  Of course Bluegrass has been a more acceptable platform for Christians and Gospel music in the past, but nevertheless, that made for four Christians in the ten "Daily Music News" articles. Pretty good.

Pray for Christians in the entertainment industry. They are only people, but they are people with a lot of visibility that work very difficult hours.


    Alisa Leahy

    Thanks Joe for the insight into Christaina in mainstream music. Its awesome to see they can be influences in their arenas. I like the Alan Jackson CD-I have it. I really would like to see Second Chance-it sounds good.


    The infiltration of Christian artists into mainstream is incredible in its growth and exposure. POD was named the "Best New Band" at Cornerstone Festival in 1994, and continue to do a show there every year regardless of the money and larger audience they could draw at mainstream concerts and festivals. To top it off, they give a "shout out" each year to Cornerstone for helping them to become what they have become.

    Even cooler is some of the hot new bands that continue to record under their indie, Christian labels. UnderOath is one of these recent phenomenons. They released their latest album with a very high MTV and Billboard debut (as well as a HUGE MySpace promotion, a giant among teens and young adults), lots of hype and anticipation ... and remain with Tooth and Nail Records, the longtime heavy metal Christian label.

    Another really big trend I've noticed is that many trendy TV shows are using the music as part of their soundtracks ... Over the Rhine's "Born" comes to mind as it was played in the last scene of Fox's "Bones" series, and while flipping through channels the other day, I heard Superchick's "We Live" song being used as the promotion of a new fall series on ABC called "Brothers and Sisters".

    Mercy Me was on Jay Leno a couple of weeks ago, and the trend just continues to grow.

    It's my hope that someone will listen, pick up the CD ... and hear the rest of the Message!


    If you care to make another plug for a Christian band gone mainstream ...

    Tooth & Nail (one of the most creative record producing labels for so many *ahem* GOOD Christian bands for many, many years) are also the label for the band "Hawk Nelson". There's a current vote on mtvU's "The Freshmen". You can vote at for their video (vote as many times as you like; voting ends Friday) and get yet another band who loves Jesus out there to the masses!

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